What is contextualization for B2B ecommerce platforms
Research by Virto Commerce has shown that one of the primary drivers of the B2B buying decisions is the availability of product information that is concisely and comprehensively presented in the context customers need. For this very reason, personalization and contextualization of experiences are becoming even more important in ecommerce. While the concept of personalization implies delivering personalized experiences for individuals in B2C, contextualization implies the same customization of experiences for business entities in B2B. In this article, in particular, we’ll talk about content contextualization, which we understand as a seamless integration of products into the ecosystem of related touchpoints (such as tools and services that customers use along with the product).
We believe that what really drives the B2B buying behavior is not much different from B2C, something you’d expect in your personal life – the availability of complete and accurate product information online.
Contextualization for B2B ecommerce platforms
To achieve a greater degree of contextualization, your B2B ecommerce platform must seamlessly integrate with third party systems and internal software. Integration with other systems ensures your product information is up-to-date and complete. For example, an inventory management system needs to retrieve data from all possible sources on products, orders, and customers in order to display the required information in a timely and accurate manner to the relevant target audience.
What Virto Commerce currently observes on the market is the proliferation of different software aimed at consolidating product information and delivering it accurately and comprehensively across different channels. Below, we’ll discuss such software as Product Information Management (PIM), Content Management System (CMS), and Real-time Interaction Management (RTIM).
Product Information Management System (PIM)
PIM comprises a set of tools that centralize and manage ecommerce business product information to ensure data consistency across different channels. The difference between PIM and a typical Catalog Management software is that the former goes beyond data enrichment: PIM collects data from different data sources in different formats, combines them into a single source master data, fixes problematic data, and pushes clean data to relevant channels.
While information used to be collected, managed and stored in ERP, resulting in huge volumes of inconsistent data, PIM automatically pulls data from different sources (warehouse, procurement, suppliers, localized and mobile stores, etc.), thus enabling the display of accurate information. For example, you might store the warranty and shipment information in different locations. Still, on the product page, they are pulled from those locations and presented alongside in a comprehensible fashion. Consider the following two examples:
Example 1. Unstructured information
Example 2. Structured information
The second picture of a product in context is clearly evocative – it helps customers visualize themselves in the context of their jobs. A product makeup differs from a generic product spec in a way that makes the product personal – it shows vivid imagery and talks in the language of the customer’s industry. Content contextualization is about small changes: you still want to keep all the basic specifications intact and choose as little or as much as you want to get that feel for the right audience. For example, woodworkers would refer to an allen wrench as a drill, so you should name your product ‘a drill’ and show an image of a woodworker using your product in action. On the contrary, construction workers refer to the same tool as an allen wrench; therefore, show them a wrench and an image of a construction worker using it.
Obviously, to tailor relevant experiences to different audiences, you need to undertake preliminary research to carefully segment your target audience into customer personas.
It is worth underlining that quality product information is the foundation of a successful ecommerce business. For all systems to function effectively, product data has to be structured, clean, and enriched. Once you implement a strong data management plan, you can ensure a customer-centric and product-powered ecommerce strategy that will generate significant results.
To summarize, consider the following diagram:
- Descriptions that talk in the language of a customer’s industry;
- Product attributes with important technical specifications;
- Supporting files like warranty, spec sheets, or other information that is linked to products and drives a lot of value;
- Product images (not just generic pictures but application images (whether used in an automotive shop or on a construction site), which give people the confidence that they are buying the right product;
- Product video that shows customers how a product works;
- Product relationships that link products for upsells and cross sells, show adequate replacements, accessories and complementaries, or sort products as good-better-best.
Content Management Software (CMS)
Real-time Interaction Management System (RTIM)
Additional materials and a side note
- What Are the Differences between Personalization in B2C and B2B?
- 5 Technical Challenges of B2B eCommerce Personalization
- Virto Commerce Modules to Resolve B2B eCommerce Personalization Top Challenges
- B2B eCommerce Personalization Challenges
- Defining Personalization in B2B eCommerce and Why it’s Crucial
Whatever your contextualization endeavors might be, the Virto Commerce B2B ecommerce platform can help you make them a reality. The Virto Commerce offers state-of-the-art technology and marketing expertise to help define and achieve your contextualization and personalization goals.